McMurry University has narrowed its search for a mascot to three finalists.
McMurry is currently searching for a mascot after having to drop the name Indians. In 2004, a total of 33 schools, including McMurry, had to submit a report that explained their usage of their Native American identifications to the NCAA. In 2005 all NCAA colleges and universities were required to discontinue abusive, national, racial or ethnic nicknames or mascots.
The name Indians fell into these categories. McMurry appealed the NCAA’s ruling, but was rejected in August 2006. The university’s Board of Trustees decided to terminate the Indians mascot later that year. McMurry has been mascot-less ever since.
A mascot-finding committee was created last year and has sifted through nearly 150 mascot suggestions. The committee, made up of alumni, faculty, student government and students have narrowed the list to three: Bison, War Hawks and Circuit Riders, according to the McMurry website.
Some earlier suggestions included the Unicorns, Crazies, Clowns and the mythical Greek sea monster, the Cracken. Mastodons were a popular choice in student polls but were eliminated just weeks ago.
McMurry Student Body President Josh Neaves said the three mascots are very accurate when considering the school’s history. Bison have been a part of Abilene history for hundreds of years while War Hawks tie into McMurry’s Native American feel.
Circuit Riders have a much different history. The term “circuit rider” was used to describe traveling Methodist preachers going from church to church preaching
Methodist circuit riders traveled across New Mexico and West Texas in the late-1700’s through the mid-1800’s. In an attempt to more identify itself with the Methodist denomination, Circuit Riders became a unique mascot choice.
“I don’t know how we are going to represent ‘preachers’ at games,” Neaves said. “It’s interesting.”
Neaves said that the students may be leaning towards War Hawks as a favorite, but said information is not easy to come by. Alumni do not appear to have a favorite, but seem to like all three mascot finalists.
Final voting for the new mascot is expected to take place March 7-10. Students, faculty and staff can vote online. The committee will gather all of the data to create a final proposal for the Board of Trustees. The new mascot will be announced March 11. From there, McMurry will begin to incorporate the new-found mascot and logo into the campus, sports, merchandise and the community according to Neaves. The Department of Advancement will come up with the new logo.
Neaves would not disclose what his choice was. He said that some of his personal favorites were already eliminated including The Nation and Thunderbirds.
“I haven’t voted,” Neaves said. “I do have a personal opinion, though.”
McMurry student Zach Henderson, junior music major from Abilene, said he liked the previous choices better than the finalists.
“I don’t like any of the mascot choices. I feel the process was manipulated. The adminstration came up with a list of about 20 names, which a lot of students liked,” Henderson said. “Then they took that list away for some reason and came out with a new list with a lot of the old names missing.